A Chef's Chef
Our Guest Chef, Michael Jordan, owner of Rosemary’s Restaurant in Las Vegas, has contributed a truly decadent dessert recipe that takes advantage of the outstanding quality of the new crop of mangoes that begin harvest this month from Mexico. Dorothy’s Lemon Sponge Pudding Cake is an explosion of flavors -- a Lemon Sponge Pudding Cake sitting in a pool of champagne, mangoes and honey that have been reduced to a luscious sauce, with a scoop of home-made raspberry sorbet on the side and the whole thing topped with whipped cream! The recipe is actually a fairly simple, three-part procedure, but the results are a slice of dessert heaven.
While Rosemary's Restaurant does have a Las Vegas zip code, it is nowhere near the bright lights and noisy casinos of The Strip. In contrast, Chefs Michael and Wendy Jordan opened their eatery some eight miles from the over-the-top opulence that has come to personify Las Vegas.
"We combine great food, drink and service with uncommon value and dining diversity in a neighborhood restaurant and bar atmosphere that our customers appreciate," said Chef Mike, adding that 45% of his patrons are out-of-town visitors despite the restaurants distance from downtown.
That diversity started for this couple, who met at New York's Culinary Institute, in 1991 as they chose to begin their careers and marriage from a small apartment above a bar in the heart of New Orleans. While the housing may have been a bit spartan in those early days, their gastronomic educations were rich in experience, as each found their own culinary mentors in a city known for its unique cuisine. For Chef Mike it was working with the bold flavors of Emeril Lagasse at Emeril's, Lagasse's original eatery; for Wendy it was Susan Spicer's eclectic Mediterranean fare at Bayona, in the heart of the French Quarter. These auspicious beginnings have influenced their paths, palates and plates ever since.
This talented couple moved to Las Vegas when Emeril asked Chef Michael to open his New Orleans Fish House in the MGM Grand in 1996. Chef Wendy took this opportunity to go into business for herself by opening up a successful catering service. In 1999 they combined their talents to open Rosemary’s. As the success of the restaurant allowed, Wendy was able to pursue another career interest as an instructor at Le Cordon Bleu's College of Las Vegas, which also gave her more home time with their two children. She remains a big part of the restaurant in spirit and will always be involved in the continuing evolution of the restaurant's menu and direction.
Like the "Dorothy" of Chef Mike's featured sponge cake recipe, many of the restaurant's dishes have names of friends or places in the title. For instance, Dorothy is the mother of one of the restaurant's long-time servers. After months of hard work and just before the restaurant was about to open, Dorothy invited Chef Mike and Mike Shetler, the restaurant's General Manager, to her cabin in the nearby San Bernardino Mountains to chill out for a few days prior to Rosemary's grand opening. That first night, Dorothy cooked up a great meal and then served the guys a Lemon Sponge Pudding Cake that impressed and inspired Chef Michael.
"I borrowed the sponge pudding recipe from my friend Dorothy and started playing around with various sauces of my own for it. It was just an occasional daily feature for quite awhile, until the night that I combined it with the mango coulis and raspberry sorbet. When customers started asking for seconds, I gave credit where credit was due by naming it after Dorothy and put it on the regular menu. For me, it continually celebrates that night in the mountains with some very dear friends."
Another nice touch is the restaurant's Beer Selections. One might expect that a dining establishment of Rosemary's caliber would have an extensive wine list, but the restaurant also offers an eclectic international collection of fine brews. In fact, each dish on the menu includes both a wine and beer pairing suggestion. "This was all Mike Shetler’s idea," explained the chef, "I like a good brew on occasion, but it is one of Mike's passions. Today, niche-market brewery beers are hugely popular, but when Mike started our beer program the small brew pub was hardly invented yet.
Melissa's counts Chef Michael and his entire staff at Rosemary's as one of our most loyal customers. "I depend upon Melissa's for practically all of our produce needs. I work closely with my Melissa's representative, who pays weekly visits to discuss the new items that are constantly being added to the company’s availability sheets to reflect new harvests. We change the menu when something on one of those sheets inspires."
Besides the history Chef Michael shares with Emeril Lagasse, the title for this feature refers to the late Chef Jean-Louis Palladin. Jean-Louis was one of the first "personality" chefs to open his own eatery in Las Vegas. During our interview, it came out that Jean-Louis was a regular diner at Rosemary's before his unfortunate passing. This world class chef's patronage is quiet a testimony to what one can expect when dining at Rosemary's. To borrow a concept from the restaurant's surrounding environment, the odds of experiencing a truly memorable meal are totally stacked on the side of the diner but, in this case, it's because the house has definitely rigged the tables!
Chef Mike's Mango Coulis Sauce really takes Dorothy's original recipe to new heights as the distinctive flavor of the mango melds perfectly with the other ingredients in the recipe.